The Ergosphere
Thursday, December 13, 2007

An irritation of trolls

Once upon a time, the English played a game of creating collective nouns.  It is from this that we get "a gaggle of geese", "a murder of crows", and so forth.

The Internet creates a need for terms to describe new things and phenomena.  I nominate "an irritation of trolls" for a 21st-century collective noun.  There are a number of them plaguing blogs such as Green Car Congress and The Energy Blog, posting and re-posting the same absolute nonsense over and over.  This behavior is eerily Rove-ian (though its origins go back much further), and makes me suspect that these are paid denialists, trying to put their talking points everywhere.  (Well, some of them.  At least one of them is either a travesty generator or so batshit insane that he will contradict himself outright within the space of 3 paragraphs.  But I digress.)

This post started as a response in the Sandia thread at Green Car Congress, but the spam filter won't allow it to be posted.  I'm not going to let it go to waste, so it appears here.

I was 60% of the way through ripping Arthur a new one last night, when Windoze crashed and lost all my work.  But it's dinner time and I've got some time to write, so here it goes again.
I ... saw the "Ice Age" (news media) hysteria in the 70's. There was just as much "scientific consensus" then as now.
No there wasn't, and you wouldn't have known it.  What's happened in the mean time can be summed up in two words:  The Internet.  The "new ice age" articles of the 70's had no significant climate modeling behind them; how could they, when computers were so slow and whole categories of scientific data from ice cores to satellite measurements of temperature and ice cover and borehole reconstructions of recent temperature history did not yet exist?  And almost nobody reading the magazines would have known that the whole thing was essentially a media craze, because all the data was in journals in research libraries to which few people had access.  Today, it's the Internet which allows anyone to look at the scientific literature and see that it's AGW denial which exists only in the media; there is no science to it.

The "new ice age" came essentially from one thing:  reconstructions of glacial history associated with Milankovitch cycles.  By the cycles, we are indeed about due for renewed glaciation (which observations did not support then, or now).  This led straight to the question of why we don't see glaciation despite Earth's orbital state predisposing the climate in that direction.  The research into this is what grew into today's IPCC reports.

Arthur gets up to the level of one major falsehood per claim:

Any theory must explain known facts, be testable, and be predictive. CO2-caused-climate-change falls on its face on all three conditions.
That's what the propagandists say for the press, and the press quotes them for the sake of "balance".  But there's no truth to it.
It doesn't explain the ice core data that shows that CO2 levels follow temperature trends.
Yes it does.  CO2 in natural systems has large feedback effects; heating reduces the CO2 capacity of seawater and causes droughts, both of which lead to more CO2 going into the air rather than the oceans or biomass.  A heating trend can be started by other influences but sustain itself through CO2 feedback.  Of course, the same thing could be started by emitting CO2.
It goes counter to the natural temperature cycles that caused cooling from the 30's to the 70's while anthropogenic CO2 emissions were increasing.
Emissions of sulfates and other reflective particulates were also increasing until the passage of the Clean Air Act.  In China, they're still going up.  These particulates reflect sunlight and cause cooling ("global dimming").

The particulates have an atmospheric lifespan of days to weeks; CO2, from decades to centuries.  As soon as pollution controls or depletion of coal cuts the particulates, the signal from CO2-induced warming will be unopposed.

And the troposphere does not show the warming that was predicted to prove the theory.
That's a flat-out lie.  The signal from ground-based thermometry showed it clearly, but there was contradictory data from radiosondes and satellite measurements.  Something was clearly being measured wrong.  It turned out that some of the data did indeed have systematic errors:If the "scientists" claiming that AGW is a hoax were doing science, why didn't they discover these problems first, and show that correcting them made the signal disappear?  It's because there is no science on the denial side.
Since it isn't explanatory, testable, or predictive, it must be political.
That is the exact status of AGW-denialism:  explains nothing, fails all the tests, and fails to predict the droughts, ice loss and warming.  It has traction only because it has committed financial and ideological supporters, just like the evolution denialists.  Projection is their common trait. 
Yes, the troll rolls are indeed an irritant!

I don't believe that many of these guys are paid to do what they do. I think paying for blog comments would be a relatively expensive way per eyeball for Big [insert fuel here] to get the FUD out.

Rather, I think that the trolls are largely motivated by things like ideology and the desire to be on the cutting edge of contrarian-ness. And the joy of bugging other people (I troll very, very infrequently, and only when the target really deserves a good baiting, but it can be quite fun).

One thing Rove et al. figured out is that by framing issues properly, you can get a lot of independent actors to work to your advantage. You don't have to pay them, you just have to hit a nerve. Wedge issues are a good example of this. Want to win a Republican election for governor or senator? Make sure there's a gay marriage initiative on the ballot. It worked really well for a time.

Note that I'm not arguing that climate trolls are acting in a totally decentralized way, but I tend not to discount conspiracy theories.
A craze of trolls... an irration of trolls... a boil of trolls?

Of course to be fair, maybe we should think of what a group of bloggers would be... a flurry... a blow? The latter does have a certain alliterative flare, if not being too complementary. Though you would have to admit some other bloggers do have enough hot air to drive a wind turbine.
Not really.
I've haunted political analysis blogs for too long not to notice a definite difference in the tone of such things over time. It goes so far as to intimidate new and occasional bloggers into taking such assinity seriously.
The game has a name actually, for the Madison Avenue turned Psyops crowd.
I'm still putting a links list back together after being knocked offline : and have been too impatient to wait until after holidays to sort things out.
You can Google "Moving the Overton Window" : a technique for sliding the perceptions of what is reasonable in discussion rather than frontal attack.
Last Left Turn B4 Hooterville had a good article on it - haven't located yet. Ditto Needlenose and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo.
There is an organized disinformation campaign, of course.People dealing in health sciences/biology/genetics note it the most. And NASA scientists and National Park people have been interfered with or 'coached' on 'political reality'.The fellow in charge of the Smithsonian resigned over a year ago in outrage over propagandists' meddling with the way the results of the scientific congress on global warming was presented.
No citations unfortunately. Google if you care.
Good to see you post occasionally. Not enough Rapier wit around.
Posts by denialist trolls will be removed.
Oldephartteintraining was hors de combat shortly after I posted. I've collected some links and headed them "Overton Window" at the new site. If that is killed as well I may be able to salvage "Opit's Bookmarks on" - or not. A cache at TPM Cafe is giving me grief and the citation numbers for some references are being messed with enough to throw casual clicking off.
Alicia Morgan at "Last Left Turn B4 Hooterville" changed some posts around, losing her comments files : including Overton Window references. She took time off from blogging to write a book about GOP PsyOps.
Blogger. I keep forgetting it refers to profile, not blog. is "Opit's Linkfest". I'm Oldephartte at StumbleUpon also. I recommend it if you've not given it a tumble.
3 for 3 for ditz tonight. It's oldephartte/blog/ - not com. There is a page for Links which you click on at the header : categorized rather than a simple alphabetical list.
So far as I know, both the Preview button and the delete links on the comments work.

One of these days you might even figure out how to <a href="">hotlink</a> to your intended target! ;)
Snort. Point taken; then put down again.
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